DR BLACK AND MR HYDE
DECISION FOR DOOM; DR BLACK AND MR WHITE; THE WATTS MONSTER
Like Blacula and Blackenstein, Dr Black and Mr Hyde is a B-exploitation film, passably well made. However, while neither Blacula and Blackenstein are any more than that, Dr Black and Mr Hyde has an undeniable metaphoric anger to it. Of all the Blaxploitation reworkings of classic horror themes, Dr Black and Mr Hyde is the only one to revamp the metaphors of the original story rather than simply recast the story in Black face. Where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) as a pre-Freudian psychological study in the rift between mans baser drives and the veneer of civilization he is forced to adopt, Dr Black and Mr Hyde rewrites it into a metaphor for the Black and White racial divide. On the Dr Jekyll side, the film sets up Bernie Casey as the kind-hearted Black doctor Pride who, in having won success and acclaim, is accused of really being white and having forgotten his ghetto ethnicity. When he takes the potion and literally transforms into a white man, the result is an hysterically exaggerated demonization of a white man that that might have emerged from someones deepest darkest racial nightmares. (Indeed, the white monster is really a colour-reversed caricature of the image of the Black Man as super-strong and a sexual aggressor that conservative White people used to hold up). It is probably the most brutish and animalistic of all the Mr Hyde characterizations conducted on screen.
Beneath the films exploitation elements looms a deeply afraid (and undeniably racist) anger and racial animosity born out of the ghetto that manages to play with considerably more potency than a good many serious liberal films about racism touching on the fear for loss of Black identity, the belief that to sell out ones ghetto roots is to become White. The result is a metaphor of the racial divide conducted with a striking and unremitting ferocity that belies the exploitation film it comes embedded in.
Full film available online here:-